Parkside Middle School student earns first place in state in piano competition
Posted on 05/25/2018
Emily Yeh Emily Yeh, a sixth-grade student at Parkside Middle School, won first place in the top division of the Virginia state-wide Mary Smart Competition in Roanoke. She was one of only nine students advancing to the competition statewide.

Yeh said she was surprised and overwhelmed by the win and the associated prize.

“They gave me a $400 check,” she said. “I gave it to my mom right away because when I was younger I had a $150 check and I lost it.”

Emily played “Hungarian” by Edward MacDowell in her award-winning recital.

“It is between classical and jazz and it is really fun to play,” she said. “One of the judges told me that it looked I was having fun playing it.”

Emily comes by her talents naturally. Her mom, Angela Yeh, is the music teacher at Bennett Elementary School, which is where Emily attended elementary school. Emily credits her mom with her success.

“My mom helps me a lot,” she said. “When I don’t feel like practicing and I just want to be lazy, my mom encourages me to practice. She motivates me.”

Emily’s mom was also her first teacher.

“When I was 5, I told my mom that I wanted to play the piano,” Emily said. “She taught me all of the basics before I was sent to a piano teacher.”

Her current piano teacher has been working with Emily on movement and emotion.

“I am learning how to use movement to express my emotions instead of playing sitting still,” she said. “I am trying to show the audience the color of the music.”

Emily also plays the viola and the cello, but she said she enjoys playing the piano the most.

“It helps me express myself,” she said. “It is like a safe place for me and it helps me clear my mind.”

She has begun preparing for her next competition, which could take place this September or September of 2019.

“I am working on a concerto that is 25 pages long and I have to memorize it and it is a really hard piece of music,” she said. “So, if I don’t feel like I am ready this year, I will compete next year.”

Emily is an honor roll student at Parkside Middle School and said she would like to try out to play the viola and attend Colgan High School. She added that she wants to play piano for fun in the future, because her true career dream is to become a veterinarian.

“I would still like to entertain people with the piano, but I want to become a veterinarian because I really love animals,” she said.